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Rural Valley postmaster sentenced for embezzling post office funds

An Army veteran told a federal judge on Thursday that he had always planned to be buried with military honors.

“I hope I can still do that,” Lawrence F. Stoken III said while wiping away tears.

Stoken, 47, of Murrysville pleaded guilty in December to embezzling $13,255 while he was postmaster at the Rural Valley post office in Armstrong County.

U.S. District Judge David Cercone sentenced Stoken to two years and six months of probation, with the first six months on home detention. The judge said he added the home detention to what would have otherwise been normal probation because Stoken violated the public’s trust.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Dillon said Stoken has shown remorse. He agreed to pay back $482 discovered during a postal audit, even though the government could not have proved that he took the money, he said.

Stoken said that in the year since his thefts came to light, he has had time to consider the magnitude of his crime and the impact it has had and will have on his wife and children.

“I’m truly sorry,” he said.

Like a lot of people, Stoken found himself in financial trouble during the housing collapse, said his attorney, Christopher Capozzi. He lost his second job as a mortgage broker just as his adjustable rate mortgage increased his monthly payments, Capozzi said.

“He had trouble making ends meet,” Capozzi said.

Unable to find another job, Stoken started a drain-cleaning business with a friend and has paid all the money back to the Postal Service, “essentially draining his pension to do it,” Capozzi said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or [email protected].


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